Puma and Forever 21 Settle Contentious Fenty Footwear Lawsuit

Puma and Forever 21 are finally stepping out of the ring after nearly two years of legal battles centered on Rihanna’s Fenty footwear designs.

The German athletic giant sued the fast-fashion chain in March 2017 alleging copyright, design patent and trade dress infringement related to several of Fenty’s well-known shoe styles, including the bow slide, the faux-fur slide and the Creeper. The lawsuit was filed shortly after fans waged a social media campaign calling Forever 21 out for its conspicuously — and, Puma argued, “confusingly” — similar designs.

On Wednesday, the two parties filed documents requesting a dismissal with prejudice, as first reported by The Fashion Law.

If approved by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, both companies will pay their own legal fees and Puma will not be able to sue Forever 21 again over the designs in question.

“The matters in controversy have been resolved pursuant to a settlement agreement, the terms of which have been mutually agreed-upon by the parties,” reads the document, though the precise terms were not disclosed.

Just a few weeks ago, Forever 21 filed a motion for summary judgement asking the court to dismiss Puma’s design patent claim related to the Creeper style, arguing that the shoe is based on a well-known look that dates back to at least the 1940s and that’s seen waves of popularity since.

The retailer also argued that Puma’s design patent rights could only extend to the specific ornamental choices the brand made, including the placement of stitching and ventilation holes and the materials used.

Forever 21 also upped the stakes last year when it claimed that Puma had committed fraud in some of its filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Copyright Office. As the fast-fashion retailer pointed out, Rihanna wasn’t named as an author or inventor on the brand’s copyright applications and design patents, despite being named publicly as the designer of the shoes.

This isn’t Forever 21’s first time defending itself against intellectual property claims from another brand (Adidas and Gucci are two recent examples). Most previous lawsuits have likewise ended in settlements, and odds are, this most recent case won’t be the last.

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